Cavaliers
Nets
97 - 105 Final
  for this game

Carter, Jefferson help Nets trump James, Cavaliers

Dec 15, 2007 - 7:12 AM EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey (Ticker) -- LeBron James made a stellar return to the starting lineup on Friday night. But Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson trumped that performance for the New Jersey Nets.

Carter scored 32 points and Jefferson added 24 as the struggling Nets snapped a four-game losing streak with a 105-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Izod Center.

With rumors of a trade swirling around the All-Star point guard, Jason Kidd collected eight points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for New Jersey, which has defeated Cleveland four straight times - including twice this season.

Carter was happy all the Nets played unselfishly to right the ship before taking on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

"It's great for us to really go into a back-to-back on the road with a win," Carter said. "And a big win. Just the way we played tonight on both ends, (with) guys trusting each other, moving the ball, guys hitting shots, guys just lifting each other up when we miss a shot or whatever the case may be. It's good for us. Hopefully, we can continue that (Saturday)."

The Cavaliers eliminated the Nets in last season's Eastern Conference semifinals en route to the first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.

It has been far from a playoff-caliber campaign so far for New Jersey, which now is just 5-9 at home and has endured the departure of general manager Ed Stefanski to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Carter, who has been booed by the home crowd this season because of sluggish play, played well in this one, shooting 13-of-22 and adding seven rebounds and six assists. Jefferson was 7-of-16 from the floor and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line.

"Vince Carter, obviously, was a big part of (the win)," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "Every time you have LeBron James on the floor, they could make up points in a hurry. Overall, I think our bigs really played well."

New Jersey overcame the play of James, who played his second game - first start - since missing five contests with a sprained left index finger. The NBA's leading scoring entering Friday's play, James had 29 points, eight assists and six rebounds in this one.

The Nets pulled away in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter, finishing the game with an 11-2 run.

Down the stretch, the Cavaliers tried to intentionally foul Nets forward Josh Boone, who entered the game as a 21 percent free-throw shooter, in order to get back in the game - a strategy normally used against Shaquille O'Neal and deemed the "Hack-A-Shaq."

Boone nailed 2-of-4 free throws after getting fouled on consecutive possessions to make it 99-95 with 2:24 left. Cleveland would get no closer.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas collected 21 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which was outscored by New Jersey, 55-40, in the second half.

"We have not defended all year," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "Yes, we have everybody back (from injuries). I don't know if it's we thought we could show up and get a win. We started off so well. The bottom line is that we're not defending."








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